Jaimee EckersJaimee Eckers receives
Scholar-in-Training Travel Award

May 2013
PhD candidate Jaimee Eckers will be attending the 59th Radiation Research Society Annual meeting in September this year. The travel award to the New Orleans venue was made by the Society to Jaimee for work that she conducted while under T32 grant support. Congratulations!

Oksana Zagorodna receives research fellowship at MD Anderson

October, 2012

Congratulations to a former PhD graduate of the FRRB Program, Dr. Oksana Zagorodna, on being awarded a 2-year Postdoctoral Fellowship in Cancer Prevention Research. As a recipient of this fellowship, Dr. Zagorodna will become a fellow of the Cancer Prevention Research Training Program at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

Sabine Vorrink wins KC Donnelly Externship Award

July 2012

Sabine Vorrink KC Donnelly award winner 2012This Superfund Research Program under the aupsices of the National Institute of Envorinmental Health Sciences — provides a three-month opportunity to study at the University of Arizona. The announcement may be read in full here with the companion announcement from the University of Arizona here.



James F. Jakobsen Award Winner

January 2012

Adam Case a student in Rick Domann's lab was one of the winners at the 13th Annual James F. Jakobsen Conference.

A link to his profile may be seen here with the accompanying video here.

Thesis winner

January 2012

Congratulations are due to Suwimol Jetawattana, a graduate of the FRRRBP program who was awarded a bronze medal in the field of medical science by the National Research Council of Thailand. The award was in recognition of her 2008 thesis dissertation titled "Role of MnSOD in the Regulation of HIF-1 alpha".

SFRBM 2011 Roundup

December 2011

SFRBM winnersSeveral FRRBP students received awards at this years SFRBM meeting in Atlanta Georgia. Accolades are due to: Bryan Allen, Young Investigator Award winner: " Ketogenic Diets Enhance Lung Cancer Reponse to Therapy," Mitch ColemanYoung Investigator Award winner: " The role of Sirtuin 3 in hepatic injury and loss of cytochrome oxidase following ionizing radiation" and Gaowei Mao Young Investigator Award winner and Larry Oberley YIA Award in Cancer: "Sirtuin 3-/- thymocytes demonstrate increased levels of superoxide, a diminished radiation-induced adaptive response, and accelerated Bax-induced thymic lymphoma in the C57BL/6 mice."

Shi-han Wang, was a Travel Award Recipient for her presentaiton: "Parkin-Dependent Mitophagy (Parkin-M) and Mitochondria Outer Membrane Permeabilization-Induced Mitophagy (MOMP-M) Both Alter Cellular REDOX and Energetics but are Mechanistically Distinct"

Oustanding Staff Award

October 2011

Amanda Kalen winner oustanding staff award

Amanda Kalen, a researcher in Prabhat Goswami's lab was one of 6 University of Iowa staff members to be recognized by the University of Iowa for "outstanding accomplishments and contributions that significantly benefited or brought honor or recognition to the university". All the recipients will be recognized at an event this fall. Full list of recipients.

Human Toxicology student wins Best Student Poster Award

September 2011

Sabine Vorrink with winning poster at CC-SOT 2011, Nebraska

Sabine Vorrink, a student from the Human Toxicology Program working in Rick Domann's lab was one of three students from the University of Iowa to earn honors at the Central States Regional Chapter of the Society of Toxicology (CS-SOT). Sabine won the award for the best student poster titled"(Hypoxia perturbs PCB126 Induced Aryl Hydrocarbon Receptor Signaling". A listing of the University of Iowa winners may be viewed here.

Rick Domann honored as Distinguished Alumnus

May 2011

Rick DomannFrederick Domann received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville at the 186th commencement ceremony on May 14, 2011. The award was conferred by Mittie Nimocks, Provost and Associate Vice Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Platteville.

Peter O'Neill, President of the Radiation Research Society (RRS) honored Frederick Domann, Professor of Radiation Oncology at the University of Iowa with the news of the award in April. Rick Domann graduated from UW in 1983 with a degree in biology (Magna Cum Laude), and is also a longstanding member of the RRS.

Follow the link below to view the commencment ceremony. The relevent portion is between minutes 43:25 and 47:15.
Below is a YouTube video of Dr Domann's acceptance speech at the graduation luncheon.

Rick Domann T-cell paper quoted in "New Scientist"

December 2010

Rick DomannRick Domann, professor in the Department of Free Radical and Radiation Biology was quoted in the December Issue of "New Scientist" magazine in reference to his recently published article in Free Radical Biology & Medicine.

The article, "Elevated mitochondrial superoxide disrupts normal T-cell development to impair adaptive immune responses to an influenza challenge," which examines how free radicals impair the mouse immune system may be read here.

Tony Cyr wins Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award

Tony CyrOctober 2010

Congratualtions are in order for Anthony "Tony" Cyr for winning the Ruth L. Kirschstein NRSA for Predoctoaral MD/PhD Fellows. In addition to the fellowship award, Tony was also provided a $1059 Graduate Incentive Fellowship by the Graduate College.



UI researchers excel at SFRBM meeting

October 2010

Leena ChaudhuriAdam CaseTwo FRRBP students were awarded $500 travel prizes by the Society for Free Radical Biology and Medicine (SFRBM) for this year's annual meeting to be held in Orlando Florida. Adam Case and Leena Chaudhuri are among eight researchers from The University of Iowa to be invited to present platform presentations of their findings at what is reported be the largest gathering of Free Radical scientists in 20 years.

The eight presenters are: Chao He, Thomas van 't Erve, Andrean Simons, Leena Chaudhuri, Anthony Cyr, Adam Case, Ehab Sarsour and Jennifer Streeter.

Links to the SFRBM's periodicial the "Dot" detailing all 2010's winners may be viewed here (pdf).

Adam Case, Tony Cyr, Trent Place, Rick Domann

SFRBM 2010 Award winners Domann lab: Adam Case, Travel Award Tony Cyr, Young Investigator Award Trent Place, Young Investigator Award.

Spitz lab, Adam Case, Tony Cyr and Jennifer Streeter

More SFRBM photos. Spitz lab dinner, Adam Case receives his award, Tony Cyr and Jennifer receive their awards.

FRRBP program is one of the top ranked in the US

October 2010

The Free Radical and Radiation Biology Program at The University of Iowa is one of the highest-rated doctoral programs at The University of Iowa. Rankings released by the National Research Council ranked the program -in the category of cell and developmental biology- in the top 20-30% of programs nationwide. More>>

Undergrad Posters

July 2010

Student Research day photos

Congratulations to undergraduates from the Goswami, Domann, Sptiz and Goel labs who presented their research at this years UIOWA Summer Undergraduate Research Conference held on July 28.

Goswami lab
  1. Tabia Augustin, MnSOD activity inversely correlates with percent S-phase SROP/McNair Abstract
  2. Eve Doyle, MiRNA and the regenerative capacity of NHF
  3. Monali Goswami, N-acetyl-L-cysteine enhances the recruitment and proliferation of quiescent human fibroblasts during wound healing
  4. Adam Nicholson, Preferential abundance of MnSOD transcripts during transition from proliferative to quiescent growth states Abstract
Domann Lab
  1. Emily Ryan, The effect of overexpression of antioxidant enzyme catalase on human mammary tumor cell growth. SUMR - Radiatioin Oncology Rick Domann Missouri, Columbia
  2. Aaron Thompson, Mutagenesis of the EC-SOD plasmid IDGP - Molecular & Cellular Biol, Rick Domann St. Olaf Abstract
Spitz lab undergraduate poster session and talks from Lincoln Program
  1. Nakita Brown, Inhibition of Rac1 Enhances Response to Erlotinib in Human Head and Neck Cancer Cells, Summer Research Program, Lincoln University, Lincoln University PA
  2. Danielle McNight, Enhancement of Breast Cancer Stem Cell Killing Using Agents that Induce Oxidative Stress, Danielle S. McKnight*, Kendall Tasche, Yueming Zhu, Peter Scarbrough, Douglas R. Spitz and Melissa A. Fath; Free Radical and Radiation Biology Program, Department of Radiation Oncology The University of Iowa, Iowa City IA ; *Summer Research Program, Lincoln University, Lincoln University PA.
Goel Lab. The Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC)/Iowa Summer Research Opportunities Program (SROP) and UI McNair Scholars Program scholar.
    Limaris Chaparro-Rivera: Parameters governing metabolic oxidative stress in multiple myeloma. Presented at: 24th annual summer SROP Conference 2010 at Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, July 23-25, 2010 AND 5th Annual Summer Undergraduate Research Conference 2010 at UI July 28, 2010.
Student research day

T-32 Training Grant Renewed

June 2010
The Free Radical and Radiation Biology Program in the Department of Radiation Oncology at the University of Iowa has received the renewal of their NIH/NCI T32 training grant award (CA078586) entitled “Training Program in Free Radical and Radiation Biology”. The grant totaling $1,376,195 over five years will allow 14 mentors, led by Dr. Douglas R. Spitz, to train three pre-doctoral and three postdoctoral students per year in the field of Free Radical and Radiation Biology. The scientific emphasis of the training grant will be the role of free radical and radiation biology in cancer diagnosis, prevention, and treatment. The Training Program in Free Radical and Radiation Biology is oriented around six key goals for education to prepare trainees for a career in free radical cancer biology:

  1. To impart a fundamental understanding of the subject matter of radiation biology, free radical biology, and cancer biology;
  2. To provide trainees with the opportunity to achieve proficiency in the radiation biology, free radical biology, and molecular oncology disciplines leading to successful careers in cancer research;
  3. To structure research experiences for trainees that include the development of a research proposal, execution of a research project, and evaluation of these results for submission in peer-reviewed publications;
  4. To offer trainees experience in learning the necessary knowledge and skills to do collaborative research with faculty in clinical and basic science departments;
  5. To provide trainees with critical knowledge and essential skills in both oral and written scientific communication; and
  6. To encourage trainees to implement innovative approaches in a “real world” environment to test, using hypothesis driven research techniques, the basic mechanisms underlying radiobiological and redox biology phenomena as they relate to cancer biology with an emphasis on developing novel interventions to improve cancer therapy.

The Free Radical and Radiation Biology Graduate Training Program (formerly named Radiation Biology) has been in existence at the University of Iowa since 1961 and has conferred greater than 150 graduate degrees with more than 90 PhDs. A total of 15 of the PhD alumni have become principal investigators on their own independent NIH grants. This program is one of a handful of Radiation Biology PhD granting programs and the first PhD granting program in Free Radical Biology in the United States. In this regard, the awarding of another 5 years of support for this unique training grant represents significant national recognition the faculty doing free radical cancer biology at the University of Iowa Health Sciences Center.

Drs Buettner, Teoh garner SFRBM awards

May 2010

Garry Buettner Melissa TeohGarry Buettner and Melissa Teoh, researchers in the FRRBP program at the Univerity of Iowa each won an SFRBM award. Dr Buettner is the 2010 winner of the Society for Free Radical Biology and Medicines Lifetime Achievement award. The award is bestowed on a scientist whose aggregate body of work, over their lifetime has contributed to the field of free radical biology and medicine. Dr Buettner will formally receive the award at the Society's Annual meeting in Florida this November. The late Larry Oberley won the award in 2004.
Dr Teoh won a research mini-fellowship providing her with "additional research training opportunities for young investigators in the field of free radical biology that are not available at their home institution".

ICTS Winning Posters

April 2010

Dean Paul Rothman and Adam CaseAdam Case, Radiation Oncology graduate student won the 2010 Research Week competition among graduate and medical students in the “Translational” category, for his poster titled "Hematopoietic Stem Cell Deletion of SOD2 Causes Aberrant Iron Homeostasis and a Complex Phenotype Resembling Erythropoietic Protoporphyria."

Travel Award Winner

February 2010

Maneesh Kumar, Ph.D. Objective, has won a $200 travel award from the University of Iowa Executive Council of Graduate and Professional Student (ECGPS) Professional Advancement Grants, Travel Committee. This award supported some of his travel to the annual SFRBM conference which was held in San Francisco.

Oksana Zagorodna wins two awards

Oksana Zagorodna

October, November 2009

Oksana Zagorodna a Ph.D. candidate in Michael Knudson's lab won a $300 travel award from the Graduate Student Senate (GSS) to attend a conference in San Francicso. While attending the SFRBM meeting she was presented with a SFRBM Young Investigator Award for her research regarding lymphoma cells.

Cancer Biologist earns Outstanding Mentor Award

December 2009

Frederick "Rick" Domann a faculty member in the Free Radical and Radiation Biology program was awarded a Graduate College Outstanding Mentor Award (Special Recognition Award) during a ceremony held the Levitt Center for University Advancement.
Rick Domann, Graduate College Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award Ceremony

UI cancer biology researchers receive federal grants

September, 2009

Researchers in the Free Radical and Radiation Biology Program in the University of Iowa Department of Radiation Oncology have received more than $3.7 million in federal funding through five different grants to conduct cancer biology research.

The largest grant was awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy and NASA to Douglas Spitz, Ph.D., professor of radiation oncology and director of the Free Radical and Radiation Biology Program. Spitz will use the three-year, nearly $1.4 million grant to study molecular mechanisms that mediate responses to low dose radiation exposure in cells and animals. These studies could improve understanding of health risks from low dose radiation to both patients and workers.

The National Cancer Institute (NCI), one of the National Institutes of Health, has awarded a total of nearly $2.3 million through four grants:

--Spitz also received a two-year, $363,000 grant to investigate whether specialized high fat/low carbohydrate diets that influence cancer cell oxidative metabolism can enhance the anti-cancer effects of radiation and chemotherapy in mouse models of human head and neck cancer and pancreatic cancer.

--Apollina Goel, Ph.D., assistant professor of radiation oncology, received a four-year, $1.1 million grant to study the biological effects of combining anti-myeloma drugs and radiotherapy targeted to the skeleton to treat multiple myeloma. The study results could improve understanding how therapy resistance develops in myeloma. The first two years of the grant will be funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

--Domann, Ph.D., professor of radiation oncology, received a one-year $265,823 grant to study a gene called SOD2 that appears to be involved in cancer initiation and progression. The study will focus on how epigenetic mechanisms (gene changes that are not initiated by gene mutations) control the expression of SOD2 in cancer cells.

--Andrean Simons-Burnett, Ph.D., received a five-year, $569,105 career development/transition to independence award. Simons-Burnett will investigate molecular targets that might be used to improve cancer therapy by enhancing metabolic oxidative stress in animal models of head and neck cancers. Spitz is Simon-Burnett's sponsor on the grant.

Spitz, Domann and Goel all are members of Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center at the UI.

Professor Buettner Earns Another Award

Dr. BuettnerFeb. 12, 2009

Dr. Buettner of The Free Radical Radiation and Biology Program has garnered another award. This time he has earned the International EPR Society's Silver Medal for Biology and Medicine 2009. The award committee especially noted his fundamental contributions that have advanced the use of EPR spin trapping in biology and medicine. Congratulations to Dr. Buettner! The following is award letter.

Award Letter

Buettner Named AAAS Fellow

Dr. Buettner

Feb. 6, 2009

Three UI faculty members named AAAS Fellows

Three faculty members from the University of Iowa Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine each have been awarded the distinction of 2008 Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the world's largest general scientific society and publisher of the journal Science.

The three new AAAS Fellows, who were all recognized by the AAAS biological sciences division, are:

--Garry Buettner, Ph.D., UI professor of radiation oncology and a member of the Free Radical Radiation Biology Program.

--Paul Rothman, M.D., dean of the UI Carver College of Medicine, executive director of UI Physicians and professor of internal medicine.

--Marc S. Wold, Ph.D., UI professor of biochemistry.

The three UI recipients, who also are all members of Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center at the UI, are among 486 individuals elected this year by peers. AAAS members are elevated to the rank of "Fellow" because their efforts to advance science or its applications are deemed scientifically or socially distinguished. The new Fellows will be honored at the 2009 AAAS annual meeting in February.

Buettner was honored for contributions and leadership in free radical biology, particularly for the application of thermodynamics to elucidate the role of antioxidants in biology. His research includes studying how vitamins C and E serve as antioxidants in cells and tissues and their roles in disease and health. Buettner holds a doctorate in chemistry from the UI and joined the UI staff in 1988 as director of the Electronic Spin Resonance (ESR) Facility, a UI core research facility. He became a faculty member in 1993 and continues to direct the ESR Facility. Learn more at

Rothman was recognized for contributions to the field of immunology, particularly for advances concerning signaling pathways and transcriptional control. His research on cytokines (immune system molecules) examines their role in the development of leukocytes. Abnormal development of these blood cells can lead to leukemia. He also studies the role of cytokines in immune system responses to asthma and allergies. Rothman earned his medical degree at Yale University School of Medicine and joined the UI in 2004. Learn more at

Wold was honored for contributions to functional studies on the eukaryotic single-stranded DNA binding protein RPA in DNA replication, repair, recombination and checkpoint activation. His research on RPA, or replication protein A, is increasing understanding of cancer cell proliferation and changes that occur when cells age. Knowledge gained could lead to new treatments for diseases associated with defects in DNA repair or replication, such as cancer. Wold, who holds a doctorate in biochemistry from Johns Hopkins University, joined the UI faculty in 1989. Learn more at

The nonprofit AAAS ( was founded in 1848 and includes 262 affiliated societies and academies of science, serving 10 million individuals. Its journal, Science (, has the largest paid circulation of any peer-reviewed general science journal in the world, with an estimated total readership of one million. AAAS hosts a news site, EurekAlert!, at

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Health Science Relations, 5137 Westlawn, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1178

MEDIA CONTACT: Becky Soglin, 319-335-6660,

Ph.D. Candidate Wins Travel Award

Jan. 8, 2009

The Free Radical and Radiation Biology Program would like to congratulate our Ph.D. candidate Oksana Zagorodna for winning the following awards.

Graduate Student Senate Travel Funds Award, University of Iowa, 2008.
Scholarly Presentation Award, University of Iowa, 2007.
Graduate Student Senate Travel Funds Award, University of Iowa, 2007.


Travel Award Winners

Dr. Madsen

Oct. 7, 2008

-- SFRBM's Awards and Outreach Committees wish to congratulate the winners of the Society's annual Travel Awards. These awards were made available to students and postdocs who wish to attend SFRBM 2008 to present their research. Ten (10) awards at $1,000 each were conferred to postdoc or student members of SFRBM outside of the United States. In addition, ten (10) Travel Awards at $500 each were presented to postdoc and student members in the US. Winners will receive recognition and their check at the SFRBM 2008 Awards Banquet on November 22 in Indianapolis. Please note that Travel Award winners are not eligible for Young Investigator Awards (YIA) given at the meeting.

10 Awards at $500 for students/postdocs within US

Kelly Andringa, University of Alabama at Birmingham
Charles Bosworth, University of Alabama at Birmingham
Joshua Brooks, Vanderbilt University
Corrine Kliment, University of Pittsburgh
Ivan Kos, Duke University Medical Center
Joshua Madsen, University of Iowa
Netanya Spencer, University of Iowa
Sita Subbaram, Albany Medical College
Yulan Sun, University of Kentucky
Yani Zou, Stanford University

10 Awards at $1,000 for students/postdocs outside US

Angelica Amanso, University of São Paulo - Brazil
Silvina Bartesaghi, Universidad de la República - Uruguay
Chih-Wei Chen, Chang Gung University - Taiwan
Andreia Chignalia, University of São Paulo - Brazil
Ruchi Chaube, University of Windsor - Canada
Nira Izigov, Tel Aviv University - Israel
Ana Matias, Universidade de Lisboa - Portugal
Ellen Robb, Brock University - Canada
Katrin Schröder, Goethe-Universität - Germany
Christoph Ufer, University Medicine Charite (CCM) - Germany

UI Study finds genetic variant plays role in cleft lip

Dr. Domann

Oct. 6, 2008

University of Iowa researchers and collaborators have found, in a previously identified gene, a variation that likely contributes to one in five cases of isolated cleft lip. It is the first time a genetic variant has been associated with cleft lip alone, rather than both cleft lip and palate.

The study provides insight on a previously unknown genetic mechanism and could eventually help with diagnosis, prevention and treatment of cleft lip, which affects more than five million people worldwide. The findings appeared Oct. 5 in the journal Nature Genetics.

In 2004, a worldwide team involving the UI identified the gene IRF6 as a contributor to about 12 percent of cases of the common form of cleft lip and palate. The new finding pinpoints a regulatory part of the IRF6 gene that binds to a protein called AP2. This regulatory part controls how much and when the critical IRF6 protein is made.

The finding involved the lab of UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine faculty member Jeff Murray in collaboration with the UI lab of Frederick Domann, Ph.D., and adjunct faculty member Brian Schutte, Ph.D. Other investigators in Denmark, Norway, Scotland, Italy, the Philippines, California, and at the National Institutes of Health and the University of Pittsburgh were also critical to the investigation.

"We knew from the earlier study that IRF6 increases the risk of clefting. There are millions of common variants in the humane genome, but only a fraction have beneficial or harmful functions," said Fedik Rahimov, Ph.D., the lead author of the study and a graduate of the UI Interdisciplinary Program in Genetics, who worked in Murray's lab.

"We found that a common variant in the IRF6 gene severely disrupts the ability of AP2 to bind to it. This in turn disrupts proper expression of the IRF6 gene," said Rahimov, who is now a postdoctoral research fellow at Harvard Medical School.

The team used computational and biological approaches to conduct the study. First, with assistance from the NIH Intramural Sequencing Center at the National Human Genome Research Institute and based on previous UI research, the investigators used nonhuman DNA to predict potential regulatory sections around the gene in question.

Regulatory sections are separate from, but affect, the protein coding sections of genes. Regulatory sections are generally highly "conserved," meaning they have not changed much over evolution. However, one of the regulatory sections around IRF6 revealed a single nucleotide variant, so the team focused on the corresponding area in human DNA already identified by a previous UI graduate student.

Next, through a connection with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory at the University of California, the variant was shown to reside in a regulatory element that controls IRF6 expression. The team then studied large DNA collections on cleft lip and palate and found that among nearly 3,000 families those with cleft lip only were far more likely to have the genetic variant.

"It was most striking that this variant was associated with clefts of the lip only," Rahimov said. "We always thought that cleft lip alone and cleft lip with cleft palate were the same disease. Now we see a difference and will analyze patients with cleft lip separately from those who have both cleft lip and palate."

The investigative work on AP2 involved collaboration between Rahimov and Michael Hitchler, Ph.D., currently a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Southern California and a recent graduate of the UI Graduate Program in Free Radical and Radiation Biology, who worked in Domann's lab. That lab was studying the role of AP2 in cancer, and so, already had developed research technology to study AP2 binding. Using this technology, the lab was able to rapidly provide evidence that AP2 was bound to the IRF6 regulatory region.

"Mike Hitchler was able to help Fedik show that the IRF6 gene had a bona fide binding site for the AP2 transcription factor, and that this binding site was disrupted by the genetic variant," said Domann, UI professor of radiation oncology. "This was very solid evidence for understanding this newly discovered mechanism behind cleft lip.

"It's a great example of what can be achieved when investigators from seemingly disparate fields collaborate and cooperate," Domann added.

In addition to his UI Carver College of Medicine affiliation, Murray has appointments in the colleges of dentistry, public health and liberal arts and sciences and is a UI Children's Hospital physician.

The study was supported in part by grants from the National Institute for Dental and Craniofacial Research of the National Institutes of Health; the National Institute of Environmental Science; and the European Commission.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Health Science Relations, 5137 Westlawn, Iowa City, Iowa 5224-1178

MEDIA CONTACT: Becky Soglin, 319 335-6660

UI researchers receive Susan G. Komen grant

Meiissa Teoh

Oct. 1, 2008

UI researchers receive Susan G. Komen grant for breast cancer research

The University of Iowa is one of 81 institutions in 27 states and five countries to benefit from $100 million in research grants being distributed by the organization Susan G. Komen for the Cure. The grants will support research focused on producing cures for breast cancer and represent the largest commitment of breast cancer funding by a single nonprofit organization.

The researchers in the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine have received a three-year, $180,000 grant to study a new approach for preventing metastasis in breast cancer. The award is co-funded by the Des Moines Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

The grant, a postdoctoral research award, will support the work of Melissa (Lai Tee) Teoh, Ph.D., a postdoctoral research associate in the lab of Frederick Domann, Ph.D., UI professor of radiation oncology in the Free Radical and Radiation Biology Graduate Program and a member of Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center at the UI. Domann is Teoh's mentor and the principal investigator on the grant, which is one of 46 such grants awarded.

"Breast cancer affects women all around the world. It is the second most common cause of cancer-related death in the United States," Teoh said. "At the time of diagnosis, more than 60 percent of patients will have disease that has spread, and while a primary tumor can be surgically removed, there is no adequate therapy for preventing and treating metastasis. Finding a treatment that would target both tumor growth and metastasis is highly desirable."

"The Des Moines Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure is excited to announce the funding of research within our service area at the University of Iowa, a first for our Affiliate," said Cathy Palmer, board co-treasurer of the Des Moines Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure. "This grant is part of a $600,000 slate of grants recently awarded by our Affiliate toward our mission of battling breast cancer on multiple fronts, including education, screening, treatment and research. We thank Dr. Domann, Dr. Teoh, and the University of Iowa for their support of furthering breast cancer research and hope that it moves us closer to finding a cure.

"As a breast cancer survivor, it is important to me that we are doing everything we can to win this fight," Palmer added.

Teoh's research will investigate the effect of combining an antioxidant enzyme known as extracellular superoxide dismutase (EcSOD) with an anti-metastatic agent called PI-88, also known as low molecular weight heparin.

"Overall we hope that by targeting oxidative stress and heparanase pathways we can come up with a better treatment for metastasizing cancer cells," Teoh said.

Most cancer cells have low levels of antioxidant enzymes compared to normal cells, and the idea of using of antioxidant enzymes like EcSOD to slow cancer growth was pioneered at the UI by the late Larry Oberley, Ph.D., who was a UI professor of radiation oncology. Unlike other antioxidant enzymes that function inside cells, EcSOD resides on the cell surface and also in the circulation system. This unique property may mean that EcSOD can exert its anti-tumor effect systemically, making it a better therapeutic agent than the other antioxidant enzymes that have to be targeted directly to tumor cells.

The second point of attack in Teoh's approach is to use PI-88 to block the action of heparanase, an enzyme that is produced in abnormally high amounts by cancer cells and supports metastasis. PI-88 inhibits heparanase and has been shown to prevent metastasis in cancer models. It currently is being used in clinical trials of cancer treatments.

Using an aggressive and metastatic breast cancer cell line and animal models of metastatic breast cancer, Teoh will determine whether the combination therapy can inhibit breast cancer progression better than single therapies alone.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Health Science Relations, 5135 Westlawn, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1178

MEDIA CONTACT: Jennifer Brown, 319-335-9917,

May, 2008 Doctoral Graduate

Michael Hitchler

The following is a recent interview by the Carver College of Medicine,with 2008 Doctoral Graduate Michael Hitchler. Dr. Hitchler is currently a part of the Judd Rice Laboratory at the University of Southern California.


What is your hometown?

Newton, Iowa

How or when did you become interested in science?

When I was young my grandmother used to read history and science to me. I guess these stories sparked my interest, because soon after that I started conducting my own independent experiments using things around the house. These simple homemade experiments hooked me on science for life. Since then I’ve always read about discoveries in the fields of chemistry, biology and medicine.

How or why did you choose the University of Iowa to complete your doctorate degree?

I was attracted to the University of Iowa by the opportunity to research and study at one of the premier health care facilities in the Midwest. The various programs and high quality of research conducted at the University of Iowa seemed like an environment in which my career could prosper. I was particularly drawn to the outstanding research and training environment in the cancer center here at the University of Iowa.

Is there a teacher, mentor or University of Iowa faculty member who has helped shape your education?

The entire faculty of the Free Radical and Radiation Biology program has guided me during my training at Iowa. However, the most important among these would be my thesis advisor Dr. Frederick Domann. Dr. Domann has given me multiple opportunities to gain new skills, form my own ideas, and collaborate with other scientists. Most importantly, he has started me on the path of becoming an independent investigator. Over the past two years Dr. Domann and I have worked closely together to outline the new field of free radical epigenetics to investigate the link between altered epigenetic processes and metabolic defects in disease and development.

What kinds of opportunities or advantages does being a doctoral student at Iowa provide? What about challenges?

The Free Radical and Radiation Biology program at Iowa is among the best in the world researching the connection between free radicals and human disease. Being trained in such a prestigious environment gives me an education in free radical biology and research available few other places in the world.

Please describe your professional goals and interests?

My overall career goal is to become the principle investigator of my own laboratory in an academic or institutional setting, studying the role of epigenetic processes in human disease and development. I have chosen this career path because I enjoy applying the scientific method to address scientific questions pertinent to public health. Such a career path would allow me to utilize my creative nature to address such questions. Fostering the development of the next generation of scientists is also crucial. During my experience as a graduate student at the University of Iowa I have enjoyed the opportunity to mentor several undergraduate and graduate students. Becoming a principle investigator would allow me to continue to train the next generation of health scientists.

What are some of your outside interests?

When away from the laboratory I enjoy watching University of Iowa athletics. I also like spending time outdoors to go fishing, camping and traveling whenever possible.

Do you have an insight or philosophy that guides you in your work?

The most valuable commodity of health scientists is their ideas and approaches to research. My driving force is to be creative in all my scientific pursuits. I’m always striving to formulate new hypotheses that address questions pertinent to the health of Iowans.

If you could change one thing about the world (or the world of science), what would it be?

Right now I would change the current funding situation. The primary source of medical innovation is based upon research paid for by federally funded peer reviewed grants. With the decrease of federal funding it is becoming increasingly more difficult to move forward with clinically relevant research. The decline of such research is a critical loss for the public.

What one piece of advice would you give to students who are interested in applying to a Ph.D. program?

Pick a program that is willing to train you in matters other than just research. Students often get caught up in what their project is going to be, rather than focusing on the academic environment. The success of a student after they leave a graduate program will equally depend upon their abilities to think, create, write and work at the lab bench.

What do you see as "the future" of medicine and medical research?

I feel that the future of medicine and medical research is in the development of nanotechnology. Applying nanotechnology to treat injuries and disease is potentially astounding. Treating a patient with small particles targeted to a specific lesion or defect would save a patient from suffering many of the side effects of current standards of care procedures.

Honoring a Leader

Dr. Oberley

April 22, 2008


I write with great sadness to inform you of the death of Dr. Larry Oberley, who passed away at his home Monday, April 21, 2008. He was 62.

Dr. Oberley was the Director of the Free Radical and Radiation Biology Graduate Program, Department of Radiation Oncology at Iowa from 1998 until this past January. He was one of the originators of the Free Radical Theory of Cancer. In addition to Dr. Oberley’s scientific accomplishments he was a mentor to 19 M.S., 25 Ph.D. students, and 12 post-docs. He involved all his trainees as equal partners at every stage of the development of his cutting-edge research. In this regard Dr. Oberley has inspired a generation of Free Radical Biologists, expanding research efforts at The University of Iowa and throughout the world. Dr. Oberley’s efforts as a mentor have resulted in The University of Iowa becoming one of the premier institutions for Free Radical Biology and Medicine in the United States with the first Free Radical and Radiation Biology PhD degree granting program.

Dr. Oberley’s devotion to training the next generation of biomedical researchers was deeply rooted in his own belief that basic research could provide answers to human diseases. When he was diagnosed with irreversible kidney failure 35 years ago, his life was extended by dialysis. In the Acknowledgements section of the Superoxide Dismutase:Volume II book that he edited for CRC Press in 1982 he said “As my life has been prolonged by the wonders of science, I hope that the lives of others will be prolonged by the fruits of the knowledge contained in this volume.” Despite the obstacles his disability presented, Dr. Oberley persevered. He quietly, selflessly, and with unwavering resolve devoted his life to the discovery of a cure for cancer as well as other diseases that involved free radical-mediated etiologies.

Dr. Larry W. Oberley received his B.A. from Northwestern University in 1968 and his Ph.D. in physics from The University of Iowa in 1974. He became a faculty member in 1975 at the University of Iowa where he rose to the rank of full professor in 1986.

He will be greatly missed by his family and friends as well as the faculty and students who have come to depend on his strength and wisdom. Please join me in sending condolences to his wife Kathleen, his daughter Rebecca, and son Christopher.


Douglas R. Spitz, PhD
Professor and Director

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Annual Scientific Address

June 11, 2008

Dr. Goswami A spectacular Annual Scientific Address was delivered by researchers from the University of Iowa, all Fellows of APWCA. The program organized by Darlene McCord, PhD, FAPWCA and supported through our first Emerald Level Grant provided by McCord Research. Drs. Prabhat Goswami, Ehab Sarsour and Joshua Madsen explained their research on "The Role of Free Radicals in Wound Healing: Cell Cycle and Quiescent Cells”.

Kumar to speak at Seventh Doris Duke Clinical Research Fellow Meeting

May 22, 2008

Maneesh Kumar has successfully competed for an oral presentation at the Seventh Doris Duke Clinical Research Fellow (CRF) Meeting that will be held at the University of Pennsylvania, May 27 - 29, 2008. Maneesh will be presenting his research on redox-sensitivity of HuR RNA binding protein and glioma cells’ responses to radiation therapy. Maneesh is a second year medical student from the Kansas Medical School. Maneesh received the Doris Duke Fellowship in 2007 and choose the University of Iowa to do his training. Maneesh is currently mentored by Drs. Buatti and Goswami. Maneesh will also be admitted to the FRRB PhD program in the Fall, 2008.

Helping Children

April 30, 2008

The white coat symbolizes the physician’s twin covenants with compassion and science. At the UI Carver College of Medicine, as at most other U.S. medical schools, students receive their first white coat in a ceremony that conveys to them their role in carrying on what the Arnold P. Gold Foundation calls the “noble tradition of doctoring.”



New Director Named

April 1, 2008
A chinese dragon

Douglas Spitz, PhD has been named the new Director for the Free Radical and Radiation Biology Program. This program has been a premiere graduate program for Free Radical and Radiation Biology over the past 40 years. The leadership was admirably being lead by Dr. Larry Oberley who is stepping down. This distinguished program has both significant training and research components. Along with its critical relationship within the Department of Radiation Oncology, multidisciplinary collaboration has been a hallmark of this programs success.

Awards Granted

April 1, 2008


April 2008: Dr. Lai Tee “Melissa” Teoh was awarded a $85,000 two year Postdoctoral Fellowship from the American Heart Association for her grant titled: “A Role for Homocysteine in Regulating Extracellular Superoxide Dismutase Function in Cardiovascular Diseases”. Dr. Teoh’s study how Hyperhomocysteinemia (HHcy), a condition with increased circulating levels of homocysteine (Hcy), is an independent risk factor for atherosclerotic cardiovascular diseases. It has been suggested that Hcy may induce vascular dysfunction through oxidative damage by preventing the binding of extracellular superoxide dismutase (EcSOD) to endothelial cell surfaces. The overall hypothesis of this proposal is that Hcy-mediated pathogenesis of cardiovascular diseases involves an impairment of EcSOD function

March, 2008: Dr. Garry Buettner has received a NIH R01 award for his grant titled: “Quantitative Redox Biology”. The objective is to quantify on an absolute basis the level of free radicals, related oxidants and antioxidants (small-molecule and enzymes) in cells and tissues; to establish a database of this information that can be used as input to model the chemical processes in cells and tissues that determine the intracellular redox environment; and make this information freely available to the public.